Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Letters To The Editor: 7-6-17

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BHS Teachers Affect Careers:

My wife and I really enjoyed seeing Lois and Iola, two members of our graduating Class of 1952. I hated it that after the banquet, no one could tell us the new address of Virginia Meyer for coffee afterward. We also enjoyed the wonderful meal. And, afterwards I talked to Jim Carson, the younger brother of two other classmates of ours, Fred and Patty Carlson. And I talked with Ivan Samuelson who I had attended country school with.
I would like to have heard stories about how the teachers at Bertrand High School affected our choice of careers. For example: The algebra teacher taught me to appreciate math and the bookkeeping teacher taught me to appreciate accounting. These two encouraged me to get three college degrees and become both a CPA and a college professor. What a wonderful life my wife and I have had..and all because of the wonderful teachers at Bertrand High School.
Perhaps the speaker committee can find someone else to talk on their experiences next year.
Lynn Dyer, Hastings


Input On 2017 Carnival:

I would like to share my input as to the carnival this year. I know last year’s carnival was the same but the workers last year made sure the kids could get in and out of the rides, made sure they were buckled in, (not this year).
I for one have heard many complaints with the help of workers not helping kids in and out of rides. It was also said they didn’t realize there was so much room and they were going to bring more rides. I didn’t see anymore.
It’s great to have a carnival, but I wasn’t very happy with the carnival workers this year!
Cindy Mumm, Bertrand



The Beauty Of The Resurrection

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Pastor Mike Szekley
Lighthouse Baptist Church - Loomis
Genesis 1:11-12 states, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (vs12) And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
I’m so thankful for this time of year! Spring is “springing” and folks are thawing out from Winter by beginning to peruse the greenhouses. Also, our hardworking farmers are out in the fields planting. Seeing them go about their business of “feeding the world” reminds me of this simple truth: “Everything starts with a seed”. This is the First Law of the Harvest - everything starts with a seed. So says God in Genesis 1:11-12.
Now in a Biblical sense, a seed can be more than a kernel of corn or a soybean. To God, a seed is anything valuable that you give away. Do you know that when you “give away” sincere praise for someone, that there is value to that? Or when you give away good advice, your time, or even when you’re benevolent with the possessions God has blessed you with, there truly is great value to that! And it all starts as a seed.
Just think about the words you use and in the way you talk with others. Your communication and your body language are also seeds that you are planting in people’s minds. Those seeds grow and they bear fruit. So in knowing this, you need to choose your words wisely with everyone and especially when you’re talking with people that you love, like your children, your husband, your wife, and your friends.
I believe God sees all of us as farmers, co-laboring with Him. We’re planting seeds all the time. What kind of seeds are you planting in your relationships? Are you planting seeds of trust, or are your planting seeds of distrust? Are your planting seeds of kindness, or are you planting seeds of crankiness? Are you planting seeds that build up, or are you planting seeds that tear down? I also believe God wants us to reap a harvest of good things out of an abundant life He’s provided. But remember this other Law of the Harvest: “You will reap what you sow.” If a farmer plants corn, the farmer gets corn, not watermelon. If you plant “good seed”, what do you think will blossom? Plant your seeds wisely.

Education Is The Foundation Of A Productive Civilization

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bY: John Kuehn
District 38 Senator

Education equalizes social disparities, expands options, and stabilizes communities. The Nebraska Constitution reinforces the value our state places on education, stating in Article VII, "the Legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools of the state all persons between the ages of five and twenty-one years.” Proficiency in basic skills, including reading and math, is the primary function of public education.
Parents, students, and employers assume that advancing from one grade to the next means a student has mastered the material in that grade. It is also presumed to indicate the student is prepared to begin learning the more advanced material in the next grade level. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many children in Nebraska. The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress reports only 39% of Nebraska fourth graders are proficient in reading. By 8th grade, that proficiency falls to 38%. This statistic should outrage parents and concerned citizens. Put simply, students are being advanced through school without mastering basic reading. This proficiency gap is the impetus behind LB 651, a bill that requires schools to ensure reading proficiency in the early elementary years and create an action plan to develop proficiency in students who are behind.
If unable to read at grade level, students cannot continue their educational growth and progress in math, science, social studies, or vocational education. Advancing children to higher grades, expecting more complex work without mastering reading, sets students up for failure. The fact that the proportion of students not proficient in reading remains static between 4th and 8th grade demonstrates that the deficiency is not addressed between elementary and the end of junior high.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, nearly 90% of the students who fail to graduate from high school struggled to read in the third grade. Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare assistance.
Not developing reading proficiency early has lifelong consequences for Nebraska children. As children fall further and further behind in school, their options for higher education and career success decrease dramatically. Over 60% of community college students require remedial education, paying hard earned dollars to obtain skills they did not master in high school. Nebraska’s ACT scores demonstrate most high school graduates are not prepared for success in college level reading, math, and science.
Six in ten Nebraska children in 4th and 8th grade are not proficient readers under the current system. This is unacceptable. The challenges faced by teachers helping students learn to read are very real. However, not confronting the problem of poor literacy among Nebraska children is not an option. Teaching children to read is the fundamental function of Nebraska schools.
The opposition of the education establishment to defining clear expectations that every 3rd grader in Nebraska should be able to read at grade level before moving to the next grade is disheartening. LB 651 has been the target of a significant misinformation campaign by the education lobbyists and the teacher’s union. Criticism has focussed on the effects of holding a child back on their self esteem, ignoring the fact the bill outlines a stepwise progression to ensure children receive intervention and individualized strategies every year of their early elementary years.
Repeating a grade is a last resort, only after significant intervention has failed. LB 651 anticipates special circumstances and outlines specific criteria for students with special needs, including learning disabilities, English as a second language learners, and other individual needs. Formal cooperation and communication between parents, the student, and teachers are integral components of the proposal.
Nebraska children need an education that helps them succeed, and it begins with elementary reading proficiency. Nebraska taxpayers have a right to expect schools to establish and maintain basic reading standards in exchange for the $11,000 and more they invest in the education of every student annually. All Nebraska students deserve to be equipped with the basic reading ability to enable them to be independent citizens.

Increase In the Median Household Income of Families

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The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported an increase in the median household income of families across the country. After years of decreasing earnings following the Great Recession and stagnant recovery, income data shows a 5.2% increase in median household income during 2015. According to Census Bureau figures, 50% of all U.S. households made less than $56,516, while 50% earned more. This represents the first significant increase in median income since 2007. Although not yet reaching the 1999 high of $57,909, the numbers do suggest that American families are finally experiencing a rebound of their financial stability.  

This is good news for Nebraskans. However, many Nebraska families in District 38 may not feel the same impact as the national statistics suggest. The recent Mid-America Business Conditions Index remains below the neutral mark for the second month in a row. Among the factors reflected in the index, confidence among businesses in the Midwest region decreased during August. This reflects depressed prices for ag commodities and weakness in ag business and ag manufacturing.

Additionally, Census Bureau data reveals rural families are not experiencing the same increase in income as their urban counterparts. Average income has increased. However, if you separate the figures by residence, the median income for rural residents was only $44,657, compared to $59,258 for metropolitan residents. A 30% gap between rural and urban incomes is a significant finding for Nebraska policy makers to consider.

Regional economists from the Federal Reserve and local business owners in communities throughout District 38 report higher debt and lower incomes among farmers, ranchers, and associated ag businesses. Accustomed to the boom and bust cycles of production agriculture, most producers and businesses are cautious about economic conditions in our rural communities in the near future.

As the 2017 legislative session approaches, Nebraska lawmakers and special interest groups are beginning to publicize their plans and agendas. Significant changes to tax policy and restructuring of business incentives are likely to be addressed. Both are in need significant reform. As various proposals emerge, caution must be exercised to avoid unintended consequences.

As the latest income data illustrates, fundamental differences exist between the economies of rural and urban Nebraska. Incentives that support job growth and business expansion in metropolitan Nebraska cannot come at the expense of rural communities. Tax policy must not exacerbate the already growing income disparity between rural and urban Nebraskans.

Applying a “one size fits all” economic model to project the effects of proposed policy changes does not accurately reflect the financial reality of most Nebraskans. The fiscal diversity of our state must be represented. The focus should remain on improving the status and advancing the interest of all Nebraskans, not those with the greatest political influence and the loudest voice.